• Published 28th Jan 2018
  • 5,660 Views, 362 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - War Does Change - tom117z



It has been nearly two hundred years since the megaspells rained fire down on the world, reducing it to a tainted wasteland. And ever since that day, the changelings have never been sighted in the wasteland...

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6 - Stripe

Chapter Six: Stripe

“That reminds me of a funny story…”


Very! Very late!

The group of zebras were definitely angry about something, and they weren’t about to be intimidated by Equestria’s worst or the sniper I had yet to locate. Best I could tell, they were bunkered up somewhere inside the office building central to the plaza. And here I was, still ducked down behind some random rubble with a whole group of raiders between me and the attacking zebra.

Still, I’d been able to count all the bars on my E.F.S. and get the occasional peek over at the two sides. There seemed to be around thirteen zebras who had spread out all over the large open area, and at least three of them had more of those weirds invisibility cloaks.

But while the zebra had claimed much of the courtyard, the raiders had barely moved from the road leading inwards. There were around ten raiders remaining in all, all of them covering behind a large grouping of rusted wagons left from when the city went boom. And now that their ringleader’s head had been kicked clean off by some freaky zebra strength, what was left of the raiders spent as much time arguing amongst themselves as they did shooting at the zebra.

CRACK.

Make that nine raiders.

The ponies were clearly outmatched and outgunned; they weren’t going to last for very long against the other two sides. Not that they particularly seemed to realise, or maybe care, as they continued to fire their random assortment of weapons anyway.

I don’t think I could ever understand the mind of a raider. Not that I’d want to, that’s one clusterfuck of nightmare fuel I’d rather not live with.

CRACK.

Twelve zebras.

One of the Remnant shouted out what I can only assume was the zebra equivalent of ‘fuck’, before jumping from their cover and, I’m not kidding, practically DANCED through the incoming fire before shimmering from existence and presumably jumping into the office building.

Or at least it looked like dancing to me. But who am I to judge how zebras liked to kill you?

“Hah! Fire in the flank hole!” one of the raiders cackled, the sound of a fiery explosion coming from another thrown Molotov.

One of the younger zebras among the group, who hadn’t noticed the incoming bottle until it was too late, was now screaming at the top of his lungs as they were burnt to ashes with the rest of his body. Only the screaming seemed to go on and on, before finally being silenced by a bullet from another zebra.

The mare who had thrown it laughed in delight, lifting her gun and firing a volley of bullets into the zebra lines while screaming a whole bunch of… creative insults. But the raider got cocky, and the moment she revealed herself every single zebra rifle was trained onto her.

Her red bar on my E.F.S. blinked out in a hail of gunfire.

OK, yeah, sitting this one out. Or at least for as long as I could, none of them had realised my presence as of yet. From what I could tell, the zebra would finish off the raiders and then whoever was taking pot shots out of the office building. While they were cleaning up, I could plausibly move on past unnoticed.

I mean, this wasn’t like before. Any reason I had to help these people went away with my E.F.S. telling me that they were no friends of mine.

Another Molotov was hit mid-air, a brilliant explosion blasting heat all the way to my own lovely pile of old bricks and rebar.

Part of me wanted to slink away and come back after, but I didn’t really want to risk being spotted in the attempt. Besides, here I could at least keep an eye on things as they happened. So I shifted slightly, trying to get a little more comfortable on this pile of rubble I was laying on.

Only when the raiders looked in my direction did I realise that had been a mistake.

As I had moved, a piece of the rubble had dislodged and come free, clattering along the street like a dinner bell. And at least some of the raiders had either heard or seen it happen, which meant that any intention I had to stay out of the fight had just gone up like a damned balefire bomb.

Well done me.

“Hold up! Looks like we have a sneaky pony!” one of the raiders jeered, readying another Molotov holding my immediate future.

I was so sick of fire!

I shot up from my cover, entering S.A.T.S. immediately and targeting that bottle while it was still held in the raider’s mouth. From that distance, with only my pistol to bear, the spell calculated some admittedly dismal odds for hitting it. Still, I only had my life to lose, right?

I set up as many shots as the spell would allow, draining the whole thing as I activated it. The first two missed by a wide margin, harmlessly striking the concrete around the raider’s hooves. The third, however, was practically a bullseye!

The Molotov exploded in the raider’s mouth, blowing half their head off and spilling fire amongst the rest of their ranks. The closest raider was doused in flames and ran screaming out into the plaza beyond their cover, and the zebras made short work of the hapless pony. The remaining six raiders split their fire between the zebras and myself, forcing me to quickly duck down back down into my cover.

I had my pistol at the ready, but I also pulled out my shotgun to have on hoof. At range, it was entirely useless, but I could make use of it in case any of the raiders decided to gut me with a knife.

I levitated my pistol up and fired two shots into the crowd of raiders, hitting none of them but forcing them to duck for more cover. The major problem was that I could now see the remnant moving quickly on my E.F.S. across the courtyard.

To be honest, the idea of facing a zebra that could kick my face off was not high on my list of things to do before I die.

I could have tried to make a run for it, but the same problem applied as before. At least behind this rubble I was relatively safe, but the moment I was out in the open…

Odd, had one of the Remnant been killed without me noticing? I could have sworn there were ten in the courtyard a moment before.

Well, I couldn’t worry about that for the moment. A couple of the raiders were still directing fire towards me, the remaining zebra were closing in fast and I still had this mysterious sniper to contend with. And while I was at it-

I found the missing zebra!

The air had shimmered from atop the pile of rubble, and then out of nowhere one of cloaked zebra had appeared brandishing a massive spear! The moment I tried turning my guns around they had both been batted aside and the zebra jumped down towards me. I had to very quickly roll out of cover and into the line of fire of the raiders.

Luckily for me, the appearance of the zebra had given the two raiders looking towards me some pause. Not keen on them to start again, I jumped up to my hooves and latched into my weapons. Bringing the shotgun round, I let off two shots into the pair of raiders that left large gaping wounds in their chests.

The remaining four stopped their firing and turned towards me, though any actions they may have taken was stopped when the zebra chose that moment to overrun the raiders entirely. Two zebras leapt clear over the wagons, with one immediately bringing their hooves onto one’s back and breaking their spine. The second gunned two of the raiders down with their rifle before being tackled by the singular remaining raider.

I entered S.A.T.S. at that point, the spell having somewhat recharged.

A quick look around myself showed that the zebra who’d tried to impale me was running at me again with his spear pointing right at my poor flank. Ahead of me, the beefy raider stallion seemed to have torn out the zebra’s throat with his teeth and was preparing to lunge at the second zebra.

I’d leave him to his fun, I think ol’ Spear over there was my immediate concern. Readying a shot to his face, I activated the spell and swung my shotgun around quickly.

But the zebra was quicker.

The spear batted my shotgun aside yet again, the shot going wide and instead hitting another unfortunate zebra who had been rushing around to help his allies. But this time I still had my pistol, and I brought it around before he could strike again.

Still, that zebra had some serious speed!

The guy was on me before I could get more than a single shot off, though the bullet bit into his hide and forced him to drop the spear in pain. But dear Celestia it didn’t help me much when the zebra ploughed right into me and kicked me aside.

Pain erupted up my side, a crunch coming from my ribs. It was like a thousand mini explosions were raging throughout my body, and the flashing torso on my PipBuck seemed to agree. My entire vision blurred from pained tears, and my mind fogged from the sheer pain of my crippled torso. And throughout it all, I could hear some kind of struggle going on around me. But it didn’t matter, all I was doing was desperately reaching for one of my three remaining healing potions and downing it as quickly as I could.

When the fog began to clear, and the pain receded, I was met with a bloody sight. One of the other zebras had been torn apart by the raider, who was now trying to take out Spear.

CRACK.

Well, at least they haven’t gone anywhere.

More zebras were rushing around the wagons now, and I couldn’t stay here. With little other choice, I grabbed my weapons in a levitations spell and bolted across the plaza. Bullets peppered after me as I ran, but I kept running despite all that. I made it all the way to the middle of the plaza, where in a small clearing in the intersection an old burnt oak stood as a marker of the dead.

One of the zebras made a jump at me, though I blew them away with my shotgun before ducking behind the tree. All of the five remaining Zebra Remnant were now swarming around the group of old decrepit wagons, the remaining raider’s marker having blinked out, and they were now turning back towards me.

CRACK.

The other cloaked zebra popped, leaving four.

Much to my dismay, I saw Spear shimmer out of existence as the other three made a break for the office building itself.

CRACK.

Make that two making a break for the office building itself.

I entered S.A.T.S. and targeted the two zebras. The first two shots were both on target, and the lead zebra fell as his indicator on my E.F.S. blinked out. The second avoided both bullets with expert precision and entered the office building. Having failed to get both of them was a little aggravating, though that pretty much described this whole situation I found myself in. But by now all that was left was the zebra who’d just ran inside, the sniper, and Spear…

I didn’t know where he’d gone, so I ducked down just a little and squinted my eyes to try and pick out any sign of the invisible zebra.

Turns out that small movement had saved my life, as the moment I moved a spear flashed into existence and imbedded itself into the tree an inch above my head.

“Oh fuck me!” I shouted out, kicking out with my hooves and taking out Spear’s legs from under him.

He yelled something in Zebra, his cloak’s magic fizzling out as the brooch holding it to him split in two. But once again, he was real fucking fast! He returned the gesture to me and I landed on my back, weapon still in my grasp but not aiming at anything in particular. And while I was on the floor questioning my life choices, he was extracting his spear from the tree. Fortunately, the pointy end snapped off. Unfortunately, it still hurt when he used his new staff to whack me over the head at the base of my horn.

My magic abruptly stopped from the blow, and as I was reeling I felt him bring the staff along the front of my neck and pull back violently.

He was going to strangle me to death! Everything was happening so fast, and my horn was refusing to even give a spark of magic! I could tug, I could pull, but moment by moment it felt like he was going to squeeze my head from my shoulders.

I was helpless.

I was going to die.

CRACK.

I wheezed in a deep gulp of air, all too aware of the warm blood pooling down on top of my head. I shouted, throwing the zebra off of me and letting the staff clatter uselessly to the side. Looking down towards Spear, his lack of a head was obvious immediately. Bloody chunks and the odd stray eyeball lay all around me.

This was the second time some stranger had saved my life. And this time I didn’t even have a name to assign them.

And maybe I was stupid for sitting there, catching my breath. I really didn’t know if this person was actually friendly or not! But I hadn’t been shot yet, so that was a good sign. And really, I needed this moment.

Just… FUCK! Raiders. Stray military robots. And now this!? The past few days had been filled with more strife and danger than I’d normally encounter in a week of scavenging, and this was the Equestrian Wasteland!

And that back there? Too close. WAY too close! There was a limit, a point in which to back out…

…And yet I was pretty much at Tenpony already. And I had to resupply as it was.

“I swear if this Cobalt doesn’t have what I need…”

If he didn’t, or he wanted me to go on some grand quest to the depths of Tartarus to find this code, then I was done. No stable was worth all this.

Bad enough that I had this new-found desire to help ponies I’d never even met…

I sighed, taking a look at the carnage around me. The depravity of our world on full display, senseless death and murder for… for what?

I knew who I could ask.

I began to trot towards the building, and I could almost feel the sniper’s sights on me at all times. I grabbed my weapons as I went, my horn recovering from the blow enough to levitate things again. I holstered my pistol and yet kept my shotgun at the ready. I only had a few shells left, but it was enough for whatever waited inside this office building.

I slowly trotted in, keeping an eye on my E.F.S. for the sniper. Up ahead I could immediately see a red bar, though I don’t think that was the sniper…

“I can see you, and I don’t want to deal with you right now.”

I fired at the dark corner where the zebra who I’d missed earlier had been waiting in ambush, painting the walls around him in red.

Clearly, he hadn’t known about the capabilities of a PipBuck.

I quickly located the staircase after that, starting my ascent upwards while watching for a green or red bar like a hawk. I moved up three floors before I saw it, and indeed it was green.

Relieving, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t change…

I kept my shotgun ready, departing the staircase and slowly creeping further in. I passed through rotting corridors containing charred skeletons and long abandoned office equipment, largely useless and long picked over. The bar was coming from a room at the very end of the corridor, undoubtedly their sniping position.

I moved on silently, passing the corpse of the zebra who had entered early on in the fight. It seemed that he’d fought with the sniper, explaining why they’d been absent for a while. Unfortunately for the zebra, this sniper was apparently quite the fighter.

I arrived at the door, trying to breathe as silently as possible. I thought about calling out to them, but I didn’t want to risk them turning hostile and knowing I was here. No, I’d bust through the door and get the drop on them! Then I could question them and feel slightly safer with a shotgun at the ready in case things weren’t quite so civil.

I took in a breath in, shotgun raised and a hoof moving closer towards the door.

Three. Two. One…

Go!

I burst into the doorway with a shout, the whole thing slamming open and revealing a room beyond that-

“AH! I’m blind!”

My vision had turned a pure white, my head throbbing terribly as my magic once again fizzled out completely.

And then I felt something hit my head, and the white turned into a deep darkness.


Manehatten was as it always was, ponies of all backgrounds moving about the streets doing all sorts of activities. Some were shopping. Others were working. Some were simply seeing the sights and having a brilliant time doing so.

I was one of the working group, sitting in my office while staring out the window. The day was bright and sunny, Celestia’s sun wonderous and warm. The sky was perfectly blue, and wagons down below moved through the plaza at a near constant rate. A bright, green leaved oak tree sat in the middle of the plaza with a bird nest sitting on one of the branches. Truly, I couldn’t ask for a better day. Though I could ask for a better place to spend it I suppose.

The door to my office opened, and my boss trotted in with a friendly smile on his face.

“Scrap Heap, how’s the work coming along?” he asked.

“Fine, sir,” I replied, shuffling some papers in my magic and presenting them to the stallion who looked oddly like a cheerier version of my father, largely sharing my brown colouration. “All catalogued and ready for shipping to the MoP.”

“I’m sure Ministry Mare Fluttershy appreciates your hard work cataloguing those new medical supplies for our troops,” he complimented. “In fact, on her behalf, take a day off. You’ve earned it.”

“Sir?”

“Unless you don’t want it…”

“Uh, no!” I quickly amended, though I was quite baffled as to what I actually did to earn this reward. “Thank you, Boss!”

He gave a brisk nod, before exiting my office and gently closing the door behind him.

I sat back in my desk, whistling wistfully to myself. Who was I to look a gift pony in the mouth? Ugh, who had even come up with that saying…

Still, that was irrelevant, and I began packing up to head home. Home… You know, the very concept that I had a place of my own suddenly felt very… wonderous. I lived by myself, sure, but it was a nice enough place. I had a stable job, friends, and I was far away from the bloodshed of the front lines. Truly, the Equestrian life in Manehatten was grand…

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find a special somepony to share that home with?

I sighed happily, glancing out the window again.

There was a green flash, and all the sounds of normal life ceased. A mushroom cloud began to rise up into the sky, and my blood ran cold as I processed what I was seeing. Right before my eyes, the oak tree withered and died. Bodies, zebra and pony, littered the courtyard while the entire city seemed to undergo centuries of decay in but a moment.

I… I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t possible! What just happened to the world!?

I heard a sound ahead of me, and I turned to find a shadowy figure holding the barrel of a sniper rifle right up to my muzzle.

“That world is not for you, scav.”

There was a loud bang, and I knew no more…


I awoke with a start, and I immediately realised two things.

One, dreaming sucked just as much as being awake.

Two, I was tied up with a very tight rope.

I looked around my surroundings, and I realised a third thing. I had moved at some point when I was unconscious, and I was now in an old burnt out apartment’s living room. I had no idea how I’d gotten there, who had carried me, or where about in Manehatten I even was anymore. Worse still, my weapons were nowhere to be found. My PipBuck was thankfully still on my hoof, and my horn seemed to be working.

However, when I tested the latter I seemed to have gotten somepony’s attention.

No, not somepony at all…

“So, the little pony wakes,” the zebra mare noted, sitting by the window with a sniper rifle held between her hooves.

The zebra seemed relatively young, probably also in her twenties like myself. She had a short white and black mane, blue eyes and a glyph on her flank displaying some kind of circle with four swirls emerging from it. She also didn’t appear to be wearing any barding at all, with the exception to some saddlebags sat to her side.

My weapons were still nowhere to be seen.

“Who are you?” I asked, thinking I may as well get to the point of this… incident.

“Asking for my name? Hm, I would expect threats before civility from one such as yourself,” the zebra coolly responded. “Are you not concerned as to the situation you have found yourself in?”

“Of course I am!” I snapped back. “But what would threatening you get me aside from a bullet?”

The zebra hummed. “Then you are wiser than most other ponies I have encountered.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call me ‘wise’.”

“Wisdom can come in many forms, Scrap Heap.”

My eyes bulged. “How do you know my name?”

The zebra chuckled. “Your computer has it on clear display. Also, you speak in your sleep.”

I couldn’t hide my blush. Do I really talk when sleeping?

“Yes, you are most curious. Not like the ponies my people fought in the plaza. You remained concealed until forced into battle and attacked, and I was curious about you. I also did not know your intent, so I set up a flashbang grenade to go off when one would open the door to my perch.”

“Ah, that explains the headache,” I replied sourly. “So… your name?”

“Stripe,” she replied. “You may call me Stripe.”

I snorted. “Oh come on, you can’t tell me that’s your real name.”

“And who would you be to judge, hm?” she replied, shutting me up. “But yes, in this instance you are correct. But Stripe is what ponies see fit to refer to me as, so it is what you shall also refer to me as.”

“And the other zebra?”

“Ah, them,” Stripe muttered in contained anger. “The Remnant, foolishly fighting a war long over. Their Legate expects all zebra to heed his call to battle, or else. They operate almost entirely in Hoofington, obsessed with the city as they are. All because of the stars… Foolish to the last, believing in old stories so strictly.”

“If they stick to Hoofington, why were they here?”

“Me,” she replied with a small smile. “My family descends from those who were sealed in Stable 3 during the great calamity. When my ancestors emerged, those who did not stay with the group wandered into the world looking for a purpose. My family were one such group, and they have found purpose with the Legate.”

I titled my head. “But not you?”

Stripe shook her head almost sadly. “My family have joined the foolish, so taken with their talk of the stars and their evil. I was not, why should we fear simple lights in the sky so far away? But they do not take rejection well, so those zebra we killed were sent to make me forever silent.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It was their decision, as foolish as it was,” Stripe responded, staring me directly in the eyes.

I must admit, the intensity of her stare was… uncomfortable.

“So, little pony, I have revealed to you my story,” she said in an almost predatory manner that really didn’t help my comfort levels in any way. “What of you? Just who is the unicorn known as Scrap Heap?”

“Nopony in particular,” I responded dryly. “I’m a scavenger. Parents were scavengers. We didn’t get along all that well, hell they practically doomed me to a life of pointless wandering through junk. Dad drank, my mother was always busy. Both got themselves killed by raiders when I was thirteen. Didn’t cry all that much, to them I was an extra pair of hooves for work.”

“Seems our families have both been of the foolish,” Stripe said sympathetically.

“You could say that.”

“But that doesn’t explain why a scavenger would involve themselves in such a hostile encounter.”

“It wasn’t my intention,” I replied, looking away from her gaze. “I didn’t mean to get caught up in your problem.”

“Then what was your intention?”

“I was heading in that direction, to Tenpony Tower,” I replied, before reluctantly adding: “And I heard some raiders talking about an attack on some zebra. I… needed to check that out.”

Stripe raised and eyebrow. “Ah, you thought they might be innocents in need of help?”

I didn’t answer.

“You seem reluctant to admit it, but that is it.”

“Recently, anyway.”

“Then what is it that has happened recently?”

“A pony saved my life. And then a zebra. Tell me, how could you continue to not give a damn when someone shows you that very courtesy?”

“A great many could,” Stripe mused. “This change you describe, you are a far cry from those raiders and other such evils in this place.”

“I’m just a scavenger.”

“A pony who was just that wouldn’t have let the actions of others change their hearts for the better,” Stripe rebuffed. “No, you are different. And certainly not a fool.”

On that comment, I could help but laugh. “Not a fool? That’s news to me.”

“You cannot see, but you will,” Stripe replied, and she got up from her place by the window and approached me.

Much to my relief, she took hold of the rope and undid the knots holding me in place. The rope fell away, and sweet relief as I was finally able to stretch out my limbs again! Stripe only watched in amusement as I enjoyed the moment, before vanishing into another room and coming back again with my saddlebags and weapons.

“Everything you own is here,” she assured. “I am confident that you no threat to me.”

“Thanks, I guess,” I remarked, getting up onto my stiff legs and collecting my things.

I made sure to check that everything was as she said, but there didn’t seem to be anything out of order. Then again, she could have taken a cap or two and I wouldn’t have noticed, but she didn’t strike me as the type…

“What are you doing, Stripe?”

“Hm?”

“Here, I mean. What is your goal?”

“I do as I always have, Scrap Heap. I search for my purpose in this shattered world. And I will not fall to the temptations of evil as my family have, simply to have a place at all. If I find my place, I want it to be for the better.”

“Better for who?”

“For all.”

For all, huh? And I mean, she was one hell of a sniper…

“I’m searching for something…” And I mean, what’s the harm in telling her? “A pony called Cobalt in Tenpony Tower has a way into an untouched stable. Stable 84. If it’s uninhabited, the caps could set ponies… or a zebra, up for life.”

“I have little desire in your caps.”

“Listen, I’ll be frank. In the past few days, I’ve had raiders, demented robots and crazy remnants of a long-gone war trying to kill me. I’ve survived by the skin of my teeth. And you don’t seem to have much going on aside from wandering, so why can’t you search for your place while making sure the hapless scavenger doesn’t wander into a hellhound den?”

Stripe didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she took a step back and gave me a thorough examination as she thought it over. Finally, she picked up her sniper and saddlebags, hoisting both onto her back and trotting up to me with a smile of affirmation.

“Very well, Scrap Heap,” she finally said, much to my intense relief. “I see no issue in assisting in your journey, and the experience may prove an interesting one.”

“I’m glad you think so.”

“I suppose you are,” she replied. “And I am interested to see how your story develops. You are a curious pony, who wishes to help others over one’s self. Recent or not, it is an admirable trait.”

“Well, shall we be off?” I asked, eager to get under way and stop Stripe’s weird psyche evaluation. “From wherever here is…”

“We are not far from the plaza,” Stripe assured. “And I know the location of your tower from here. They are not so receptive of my kind, but if we must go there then we shall.”

“I can find it,” I remarked with small smugness, holding up my PipBuck. “This thing has a navigation tool.”

“Helpful,” she admitted, moving off through the door out of the apartment. “Then let us depart, little pony.”

She exited through the doorway, and I was left alone for the moment. I must admit, this whole thing had been a weird experience from start to finish. Heh, this is what I get for listening to the adorable little ghoul…

“Oh, and Scrap Heap,” Stripe addressed me, poking her head through the doorway with a little smirk I didn’t like very much. “If you ever prove me wrong about you, and make me do something unjust, I will introduce you to my rifle more… intimately.”

With that threat delivered, she disappeared through the doorway again.

This could only go well.


Footnote: Level 5

New Perk: Zebra Sight - Your companion has given you +5% accuracy while in S.A.T.S.